Remember Gov. Neil Abercrombie's promise last year to return our incarcerated population home because "It costs money. It costs lives. It costs communities, It destroys families. It is dysfunctional all the way around?" Remember his pledge "to do a lot more in the way of intervention" and "programs?"
What have we gotten in return for these promises?
Hawai'i recently signed a new contract with Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) for a $45.5 million contract to warehouse even more prisoners from Hawai'i-up to 1,956 men at two CCA prisons in Arizona.
And, the Department of Public Safety has finally admitted that the state has restarted plans for the proposed Maui Prison Complex despite the overwhelming majority of public comments in opposition to this project.
Our community must remain vigilant in opposing this project and continuing to demand cost-effective alternatives to building an 843-bed prison complex on Maui!
The governor, state Legislature, Department of Public Safety, Judiciary and other stakeholder agencies have allegedly pledged their commitment to implementing "Justice Reinvestment" policies with the technical assistance of the Department of Justice and the Pew Center on the States. (See justicereinvestment.org/states/hawaii.)
However, a good faith effort would mean holding off on plans to build a new prison on Maui. Instead, let's invest in "Justice Reinvestment" strategies that have proven cost-effective in reducing correctional costs and the overall prison population in other jurisdictions such as Texas, Ohio and Kansas.